By Chioma Gabriel
There’s a grave evil happening in Nigeria. When it started years ago, one keeps hoping that one day it would become history but it never did. And just like other evils happening in the land, it has gotten worse. And it may never end.
In the past, women in Edo and Delta States have taken to the streets to protest the rape and murder of pregnant women by herdsmen in the states. The protesters shut down the ever-busy Benin-Ore-Lagos expressway over the deadly act. The women were said to have been raped and murdered by suspected Fulani Herdsmen who have been terrorising communities in the states and even security men who were mobilized to the scene could not manage the situation.
Last Thursday, a Catholic Priest, Father Paul Offu was reportedly shot dead by unidentified gunmen. Fr. Offu hailed from Okpatu in Enugu State and until his death, was the parish priest of St. James the Greater Parish, Ugbawka. Fulani herdsmen were fingered to have killed him along Ihe-Agbudu Road in Awgu.
Fr Offu’s murder happened just five months after the killing of Fr Clement Ugwu, the parish priest of St Mark Catholic Church, also in Enugu State who was kidnapped on March 20 and was found dead in a bush decomposing after a one-week search by his parishioners.
Fr Offu was said to be the seventh Catholic Priest to have been killed in Enugu.
On Friday, angry Catholic priests marched to the Government House Enugu with placards, with inscriptions such as like ‘enough is enough’, ‘government should rise to defend Nigerians’ and more. They also matched through the major streets in the state capital to the police headquarters, chanting ‘God save Enugu people from murderous Fulani herdsmen, ‘enough is enough, and the government should do something and save us.”
On the same day that the Catholic priest was killed, news broke that five Pastors of the Redeemed Christian Church of God were kidnapped at Ijebu-Ode.
The General Superintendent of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Pastor Enoch Adeboye, had on Friday announced the abduction of the five pastors of the church on their way to the Annual Holy Ghost Convention while Catholic priests were still protesting the death of their own in Enugu.
The identity of the five pastors was yet to be revealed.
The pastors were coming from the Southwest state of Ondo, the same state where Mrs. Funke Olakunrin was shot and killed by herdsmen not long ago.
In Nigeria, the menace of herdsmen has caused the death of hundreds of people and the displacement of many others.
These herdsmen move from place to place and leave in their trails, killings, maiming, destruction of farmlands and several other nefarious activities.
Currently, the menace of the Fulani herdsmen can be rightly said to be part of terrorism.
They have been on rampage, destroying and killing people in many states.
Although nobody mentioned herdsmen in the abduction of the Redeemed pastors, the menace of these people cannot be wished away.
Their activities have become the burning issue in major political, legal and academic forum.
Nigeria has not heard the last of it.
In the southeast, the governors have been silent in the face of tyranny of these deadly herdsmen and some governors try to protect them, never owning up whenever these men strike but would rather, attribute their activities to either armed robbers and unknown gunmen.
And the problems persist.
In Ijebu Ode, the kidnap of the pastors happened just a day after President Buhari said his administration will deploy drones, Close Circuit Televisions, CCTV to monitor forests and tackle insecurity in Southwest.
He told Obas from the South West that his administration was doing everything possible to tackle security challenges in the country.
According to Buhari, “Working with the State governments, we intend to beef up the equipping of the police force with advanced technology and equipment that can facilitate the work of the security agencies. The President disclosed that he “will be issuing directives to the appropriate federal authorities to speedily approve licensing for States requesting the use of drones to monitor forests and other criminal hideouts,” adding that, “We also intend to install CCTVs on highways and other strategic locations so that activities in some of those hidden places can be exposed, more effectively monitored and open to actionable review.”
The southeast was not mentioned by the president and the zone has been loudly silent, not taking proactive measures to address the issues but had continued to deny the fact that herdsmen are perpetrating havoc in the zone.
Currently, Nigerian roads have been impassable. To travel from one city to the other is now a problem and to go from one state to the other is a bigger problem because the forests on the highways have become the abode of merchants of death and disaster.
Very soon, it would be another Christmas and end of the year when people travel home and tell me, which route would you pass when travelling home for Christmas?
- This article was written before the abducted victims were rescued.